Perhaps you remember the days when all you would hear in a hospital was chatter on the loudspeakers echoing down corridors on every floor and ward, even in ICU. Those days are long gone, for the most part, because technology has made radical improvements in the way in which communications are managed. Yes, you will still get that occasional “Doctor Smith, report to pediatrics stat,” or something along those lines, yet those instances are extremely rare thanks to advances in technology. Since the days of pagers, intercoms have been used much less frequently. In fact, there are a number of ways in which technology has improved hospital communications.
1. Reduction in Noise Levels
Quality in patient care is a multi-level endeavor. One area which has always been problematic is in offering patients a peaceful environment in which to heal. Hospitals are, after all, a place for healing under the care of physicians and nurses. Who can rest with an intercom blaring in your ear every few minutes? As mentioned above, hospital intercoms are rarely used anymore except perhaps when a visitor needs to be reached.
2. Added Levels of Security
Another key benefit technology has provided in hospital communications is extra layers of secure hospital communications. As time goes on, IT professionals work toward better encryption so that all communications are secure from breaches. With a huge focus on HIPPA and patient confidentiality, communications with high levels of security make it easier to be in compliance with federal regulations.
3. Authentication of Communications Sent
There may come a time when your communications need to be audited. As an extreme example, consider a patient who wasn’t given the right medication at the right time. The doctor claims to have given an order but the nurse claims never to have received it. The patient suffers an ill consequence as a result of this breakdown in communication. All digital communications, spoken and written, are time stamped and can be tracked as needed. When Internal Affairs is involved, this could be the difference between ongoing employment and that dreaded pink slip.
4. Speed of Communications
Then there is the speed at which technology enables communications to take place. Smartphones are, perhaps, one of the most useful devices ever to have been invented when it comes to hospital communications. That one small handheld device can easily fit in a pocket and can handle literally any type of digital communication from email, to messaging to voice calls. It is no longer necessary to find a hospital phone to answer a page or step into an office to check your email.
5. Connectivity between Devices and Systems
Speaking of cell phones and handheld devices, technology has provided a way for all devices to communicate with each other. This is especially important where patient records are concerned. Electronic Medical Records (EMR) and Electronic Health Records (EHR) make communications immediate. If a specialist needs to access a patient’s files, it is no longer necessary to fax or email them. Specialists can log onto the system and via a mobile device or desktop computer those records for a consultation will be there within moments.
Technology has not only provided time-saving ways to communicate but also offers a cost-effective way to manage those communications. Everyone involved reaps the rewards, but above all, patients get the best care possible in a timely manner at a lower cost to the hospital than ever before. That’s how technology has improved hospital communications in a nutshell.